Dawn broke early in Laoag, Ilocos Norte where we spent the night. After having a light breakfast of Ilocos longanisa (sausage) courtesy of our host, we geared up for the second leg of our Ilocos tour.
Leaving Laoag City about seven in the morning, we headed north passing the towns of Bacarra and Pasuquin to the coastal town of Burgos to visit a famous heritage landmark in Ilocos Norte –the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.
From Maharlika Highway, we turned east following a signage along the side of the road. It was an uphill approach over a well-paved and winding road. At the end of the road is the view of the century-old lighthouse crowning the hill known as Vigia de Nagparitan.
Standing 160 meters above sea level, the Lighthouse of Cape Bojeador is the highest elevated lighthouse in the Philippines. Upon our arrival, there were only a couple of vehicles in the parking area (which means the numerous tourists visiting the famous lighthouse has not yet arrived). Taking advantage of the unusual situation, we did not waste any time ascending the flight of concrete steps to reach the perimeter wall. Upon entering the courtyard, we saw two structures made of old red bricks decorated with antique wrought-iron grills. We climbed up to the terrace of the larger building where the National Historical Institute marker is installed.
Built on March 31, 1892, Faro de Capo Bojeador was designed by Engineer Margin Pers y Pers in 1887. It was reconfigured and constructed by Engineer Gulliermo Brockman. The lighthouse has been guiding sea vessels passing the northern part of South China Sea and the rugged coast of Cape Bojeador. Despite of its age, it is still being used today. The lighthouse has been declared as a National Historical Landmark and a National Cultural Treasure.
Excited to explore the octagonal stone tower, we passed by a short corridor where a small museum is located in one of its side chambers. At the end of the corridor is another flight of stairs leading to the foot of the tower where a door with a warning sign above it opens to another ladder.
We were told that only a certain number of people are allowed to climb up to the lens room at a time since the weight of people climbing all at once might jeopardize the structural integrity of the century-old tower.
Ascending the antique spiral staircase we occasionally look out through windows that pierced through the tower’s 20-meter shaft. The dizzying climb terminates at the tower’s watch or service room where a crude (not sure if it’s functional) mechanism composed of gears, counter weights and pulleys are located.
We climb another ladder to reach the lens room. The lens room offers a compelling view of Cape Bojeador and the South China Sea. From our view in the lens room, we noticed some buses and more vehicles and more people started to gather below the tower. We thought that its time to climb down to give other visitors a chance to see the breathtaking view.
Just like the Earthquake Baroque Churches, the bridges, and the old houses of Ilocos, the Lighthouse of Cape Bojeador is an architectural and engineering milestone of its time. Being preserve for generations to see, it has become a must-see tourist attraction in Ilocos Norte. A touristic sensation it shares with another engineering marvel –the Windmills of Bangui.